April is an interesting month for folks like us, who rely heavily on our own home-grown and -preserved food throughout the year. We’re still drawing on our diverse stocks of foods preserved last year, but starting to integrate the first fresh, seasonal items. For us, spring means more than salad greens; it’s when fresh milk comes back on the menu, in the form of cheese, yogurt, custards, and more, along with abundant eggs (we can easily consume 3 dozen or more in a week), and it’s when we start using up the preserved items we won’t see again until their fresh season comes (we’ve just about finished the dried peppers and tomatoes, for example).
Here’s a look at a few of the meals we’ve made in late April, a somewhat random mix of dishes we bothered to take photographs of. Hopefully the collection helps illustrate both the diversity of food & cooking still available to us even after a long winter, and the value of a diversified farm in producing interesting food. Farm-sourced ingredients listed in italics.
We love our dried cowpeas, which are easier to grow than regular soup beans and cook far faster. They make quick meals really easy, such as this chili made of stored onions, stored garlic, dried cowpeas, home-canned tomatillos, dried peppers & tomatoes, home-made frozen pepper sauce, fresh cilantro, fresh-ground venison, salt & pepper.
PASTA WITH GREENS
Pasta provides endless opportunities for combining fresh & preserved ingredients into simple but tasty sauces. In this case, we topped organic penne with fresh collard greens, diced cured ham, dried tomatoes, garlic, herbs, & goat feta.
WIENERSCHNITZEL & MORE
A nice, multi-course meal showcasing all sorts of farm ingredients. Schnitzel: venison loin pounded thin, fried in breading of homemade rye crumbs, egg, & olive oil. Noodles: organic pasta topped with sauce of fresh shiitake mushrooms cooked in butter & flour, with water and fresh sage & thyme. Salad: spinach & sorrel topped with fresh goat feta, olive oil, & balsamic vinegar. Bread: fresh-baked rye bread.
Kebabs: goat & pork cubes, marinated in oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, sage, oregano and grilled over hardwood charcoal and wild plum wood with yellow onions. Fresh-made paneer (Indian cheese) in a marinade featuring yogurt, cilantro, mint, & garlic. Rice Pilaf: onion sauteed in butter, organic brown rice, toasted and cooked in goat broth topped with fresh garlic chives. Salad: spinach, sorrel, herbed fresh ricotta, sliced baby radishes, & chives dressed with oil & vinegar. Grilled asparagus: fresh asparagus tossed with olive oil & salt. Note: I have no idea if the wild plum wood added any flavor, but it seemed like a fun thing to try.
Cake made with eggs, sugar, flour, butter, & vanilla; topped with powdered sugar and violets. Not shown, but on the side: Cajeta (Mexican goat-milk caramel): goat milk simmered with sugar, cinnamon, & baking soda. Rhubarb sauce: fresh rhubarb cooked with sugar, cloves, and a splash of orange juice.